Please advice on how to correctly abbreviate name.

Which are grammatically correct? (if there are more correct forms please kindly add them as well)

NOTE, If there is no correct way, please point out the acceptable/common form.

Case 1

First Name and Last Name

Mr. John Smith

  1. Mr. John S
  2. Mr. John S.
  3. Mr. J Smith
  4. Mr. J. Smith
  5. Mr. JS
  6. Mr. J.S
  7. Mr. J. S
  8. Mr. J.S.
  9. Mr. J. S.

Case 2

First Name, Middle Name and Last Name

Mr. John Lamar Smith

  1. Mr. John L. Smith
  2. Mr. John L. S.
  3. Mr. John Lamar S.
  4. Mr. J. L. Smith
  5. Mr. J. Lamar Smith
  6. Mr. J. L. S.
  7. Mr. J.L.S.
  8. Mr. JLS

Thank You

  • This is a question not about grammar, but style preferences. Also, there is no information about the context for the question. – Erik Kowal Jan 26 '15 at 7:34
  • @ErikKowal , sorry I didn't know that this is not related to grammar. I just want to be able to use it correctly. For example, when writing letter, emails, etc. I though that there would be a correct form, if not and it's purely based on style and preferences then please point out the acceptable/common form. – chmod Jan 28 '15 at 10:09

(US English)

In Case 1, the only one that is both correct and common is #4.

In Case 2, the ones that are both correct and common are #1, #4, and #5.

However, you would never use #5 unless you knew that Mr. Smith likes to be referred to in this way. Some people adopt their middle name as their "handle", and downplay their given first name. Most do not.


This is not a grammar issue, but at the same time, it is not often style preference because there could be a cultural difference too! There should be no issue with using 'first name' (Mr John in this case). If there are too many 'John's, then Mr John L. Smith should be adequate! I guess in some countries, first names are far too common and they use last name ('Mr Smith' in this case) to differentiate. In few other countries, first name is what is known and differentiates people. So 'John L.S.' is what others may know and they may be clueless if 'Mr J.L. Smith' is mentioned!

  • I would say it's quite unusual to hear "Mr forename" on it's own (in the UK) however I know it is common in other countries to do this as a way of showing respect rather than simply using forename. – Frank Jan 26 '15 at 7:54
  • @Frank I think the reason Charles Skinner may get called Mr Charles, especially in Asia, is that the people in some countries are unclear as to which is his surname and which his given name. It happens to me constantly when I am in the Far East, often coming from airline staff, who one would think would know better. – WS2 Jan 26 '15 at 10:32

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